According to the dictionary, wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement based on sensible, intelligent, rational wise thinking.
Our common sense informs us that it is important that we respond to situations in a rational, ordered way. We keep being told by the government that their actions in this pandemic are following the science.
However, when we looked at what happened in Wuhan and Italy before the pandemic arrived in the United Kingdom, as we watched numbers rise causing the highest number of deaths per capita in the world and as we have lost loved ones and livelihoods, there have probably been times during the last year, when you, like me, have asked the question, “How could the government be so stupid?”
Why didn’t they close the borders and lockdown sooner? Why did they let us mix on Christmas day? Why did they keep the schools open?
This week my anger was rising as I realised that almost a year after the first lockdown, our borders still haven’t been closed. The hotels which have been prepared to quarantine incomers still haven’t received guests. Thousands enter the country daily and now we are faced with the South African mutation of the disease here in Frankley.
How could they be so stupid we ask when we see raves in town and people ignoring lockdown rules?
Our questioning often comes out of feelings of superiority or self righteous anger. It is easy to be wise in retrospect.
Proverbs 8 starts more positively with the question, “Does not wisdom call and does not understanding raise her voice?”
When human beings act irresponsibly, selfishly and greedily wisdom calls out and our conscience tells us, most of the time, that what we are doing is wrong.
When answers seem obvious, yet we are met with stupidity and irresponsibility, we would answer, “Yes, wisdom calls out and understanding raises its voice.”
As temperatures have soared and climate change is destroying our planet, understanding is raising its voice ever more loudly. It was clear to many that a corona virus was likely. As the planet heats up, animals are coming into contact with other animals they were normally separated from creating an opportunity for pathogens to get into new hosts including humans.
Wisdom is personified as a woman in these verses. Lady Wisdom, takes her stand at the crossroads, beside the gates at the front of the town. She utters truth in the place where political decisions are made and merchants come and go. She says, “Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold for all that you may desire cannot be compared with me.”
Globalisation, industrialisation and our commercial institutions which have put profit above people and the free market above justice are some of the reasons we have got into this mess. It will take a long time to disentangle ourselves and live more fairly.
Wisdom tells us that in doing so we will be rewarded because she endows with wealth those who love her and fills their treasuries. There are riches we reap which are not economic when we follow God’s way such as faith, hope, love, peace and joy.
Lady Wisdom is the one who dwelt with God and was God before the creation of the world, the one in whom according to John’s gospel, was life and the light of all people. She was the master worker who with the Lord created the universe. She knows how it was designed and the part we humans are meant to play within it. Wisdom was the Lord’s daily delight and she delighted in his inhabited world and in the human race.
Only the wisdom that comes from above can get us out of this mess and God promises to give it liberally to all who ask.
It is surprising that wisdom is personified as female. Historically women were always seen as the emotional ones whereas men were seen as more rational and wise.
In the New Testament we see God’s wisdom, his living word and values in the life of Jesus Christ. He brings those of us who believe in him to a new birth and gives us power to be called and behave as children of God.
The question, “How could they be so stupid?” is arrogant. It places blame on others and not on us. It absolves us of responsibility when we should be looking at our part in how our world has got into this mess.
When we look for Lady Wisdom’s call and listen for the voice of understanding, we acknowledge that we haven’t got all the answers.
We must listen and learn. We would probably have messed up too.
Wisdom in Proverbs refers to God’s living voice. She cries out to be involved by us in the affairs of government, politics, her creation and our lives.
We desperately need wisdom, we need the Lord Jesus to enlighten our thinking as we seek to come out of this pandemic and as we seek to counter the problems we experience through climate change.
We need Lord Jesus to change us on the inside so that instead of anger and despair we wisely work with him to love his people and save our planet.
give us reverence for all creation
and respect for every person,
that we may mirror your likenessin Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen